Theme for June, 2014 ~ Seeing With New Eyes
I once blew a kiss to Maya Angelou! It was 1993 and I had stealthily ducked out of the college gymnasium in which she had just completed speaking (before the crowd swells coagulated). As I sprinted across the parking lot in the back of the building, I noticed a limo stirring in an otherwise unusually desolate parking lot (as everyone was yet sardined jammed inside) and realized that Maya Angelou had similarly maneuvered or been spirited through her own swift escape hatch. As the limo angled nearer, infused still with the shakti-like energy of her words, I raised my hand to my lips and blew her a kiss. Then saw her hand waving its acknowledgement, I can only imagine that we were both smiling…
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
The news of Maya Angelou’s death arrived with the abruptness of a great twister — violent, without warning, tearing things up and flipping things over.
A TEDx Talk, from one of our own, which also happens to be illustrative of how ‘honoring our pain’ can then transform into ‘seeing with new eyes’ (thus fostering intrinsic choice):
Utilizing Miki Kashtan’s Core Commitments (via The Fearless Heart) we’ll work with choosing an intention from which to come from as we explore ‘seeing with new eyes’ (i.e. #3, at bottom, “using one or more commitments as a compass for responding to a situation”):
Engaging with the Core Commitments
Embracing the Path of Consciousness Transformation
- Engaging with the paradox of seriousness commitment without internal demand
- Working with inner obstacles
- Finding ways to seek support
Variety of Ways of Working with the Commitments
- Using specific commitments as inspiration
- Using a commitment as the focus of an ongoing path
- Using one or more commitments as a compass for responding to a situation
One option for how to use Commitments beneath:
(via The Fearless Heart: The Long Arc of Commitment)
The Long Arc of Commitment – Excerpt:
Resources to Guide Our Choices
Ultimately, when integrated, the commitments can become a compass, an invitation and a way of shaping how we respond to situations in our lives. Recently, at a retreat I led in upstate NY, one woman, let’s call her Irene, told us that a friend of hers speaks about ongoing life difficulties at much greater frequency and length than Irene can be present for. This is an experience so many of us have had in one form or another. How do we respond to such a situation with integrity? We consulted the commitments, and saw how many different options they presented.
Focusing on “Responsibility,” for example, would lead Irene to be honest with herself about what she really wants, and find a way to let her friend know, make the necessary requests of her, and engage to find a solution that truly works for her.
Focusing on “Generosity” instead, she would work internally to remove all obstacles to choose to give her attention to her friend more fully.
Focusing on “Authenticity and Vulnerability” would lead Irene to remove all blame and protection, and to let her friend deeply into the depth of the dilemma she is facing, inviting compassion for herself while also caring for her friend.
Focusing on “Accepting What Is” would lead her to stretch to remove tension and resentment, to sink into her understanding that her friend’s speech is part of life, and release all expectation that things be different.
We saw how much having these commitments can be a way to remember that life is an ongoing and mysterious flow of one choice after another. There is never a “right” way to respond, no matter how habituated we are to believe there is. There is also never a choice that has no consequences. Whatever we do in any given situation affects us and those around us. There is no escape from our interdependence, from being part of life, shaping it and being shaped by everything around us. And we never lose choice, and our options almost always are wider than we imagine.
Read Kashtan’s piece, in its entirety, here: http://thefearlessheart.org/the-long-arc-of-commitment
An example of choosing “Responsibility”:
By Miki Kashtan
Supporting a Friend
Recently, a friend told me about a challenging experience he had when he went to a birthday party with his wife. He saw her move about the room, chat with people and exude warm, social energy, while he was stuck in a familiar and painful place, feeling awkward and not knowing what to do with himself. This was so painful, that he had a nightmare and woke up in panic the next morning. As he lay in bed, he was able to bring some perspective back, and successfully reminded himself that it’s his preference to engage with people deeply rather than a deficiency of his as he first experienced it. That released most of the intensity, and still he was wondering what to do with himself in those moments in which the kind of depth that he longs for is not exactly on the menu.
In this moment in the conversation this recent insight about power came to my awareness, and we explored the implications for his situation. Because I imagine that the challenge he described is so familiar to many, I want to share the details of what we arrived at.
First, it became clear that the most powerful thing he could do in such circumstances is to ask himself what he could do, moment by moment, to create as much meaning and depth as possible given the surroundings. We were happy to see that it could mean doing the “risky” behavior I often choose, which is to take casual conversations, even with strangers, and engage them to become deeper and more meaningful. In fact, for myself, I almost can’t help it. Whatever someone says, I almost invariably think of the questions that would take the conversation deeper. For my friend, this was not a response he had considered before, and yet he could immediately see that this was an option.
We also recognized that sometimes the answer would be different, that meaning and depth would take him to sit on the sides and occupy himself with something else altogether. We noted the difference between disengaging and withdrawing, on the one hand, and choosing to focus elsewhere, which is far more empowered.
Lastly, he noted to himself that asking that question can, in itself, feel like doing a lot of work. He wanted it to be a choice whether or not he would ask himself that question, whether or not he would engage with himself about what would bring depth and meaning. Then we concluded together: the more choice we give ourselves, the more powerful we can be in each moment.
RELATING TO MYSELF
Openness to Myself: even when I act in ways I really don’t like, I want to keep my heart open to myself. If I find myself in self-judgment, I want to seek support to reconnect with myself and hold with compassion the needs that motivate my actions.
Openness to the Full Emotional Range: even when my feelings are uncomfortable for me, I want to stay present with myself and keep my heart open to the fullness of my emotional experience. If I find myself contracting away from my experience, numb or shut down, I want to seek support to release defendedness and open to what is.
Risking My Significance: even when I am full of doubt, I want to offer myself in full to the world. If I find myself thinking that I am not important or that my actions are of no significance, I want to seek support to come back to my knowledge that my presence and my gifts matter.
Responsibility: even when overwhelmed with obstacles or difficult emotions, I want to take full responsibility for my feelings, my actions, and my life. If I find myself giving my power away to other people, larger forces, or analytic categories such as my past or any labels I put on myself, I want to seek support to find the core source of choice within me to live as I want and ask for what I want.
Self-Care: even when I am stressed, overwhelmed, or in disconnection, I want to maintain my commitments to my well-being, and take actions that nourish my life. If I find myself letting go of strategies that I know contribute to my life (such as exercise, eating as I want, receiving support and empathy as needed, enjoyable activities, or anything else that I know works for me), I want to seek support to ground myself in the preciousness of my own life and my desire to nurture myself.
Balance: even when I am drawn to overstretching myself (including towards any of these commitments), I want to remain attentive to the limits of my capacity in any given moment. If I find myself pushing myself, I want to seek support to honor the natural wisdom of my organism and to trust that remaining within my current limits will support me in increasing my capacity over time.
ORIENTING TOWARDS OTHERS
Loving No Matter What: even when my needs are seriously unmet, I want to keep my heart open. If I find myself generating judgments, angry, or otherwise triggered, I want to seek support in transforming my judgments and meeting others with love.
Assumption of Innocence: even when others’ actions or words make no sense to me or frighten me, I want to assume a need-based human intention behind them. If I find myself attributing ulterior motives or analyzing others’ actions, I want to seek support to ground myself in the clarity that every human action is an attempt to meet needs no different from my own.
Empathic Presence: even when others are in pain, disconnected from themselves, expressing intensity, or in judgment, I want to maintain a relaxed presence with their experience. If I find myself attempting to fix, offering advice, doing mechanical empathy, or turning my attention elsewhere, I want to seek support to regain my faith in the transformative power and the gift of just being with another.
Generosity: even when I am afraid or low-resourced, I want to keep reaching out to offer myself to others and respond to requests. If I find myself contracting in fear and unwilling to give, I want to seek support to release any thoughts of scarcity and embrace opportunities to give.
INTERACTING WITH OTHERS
Authenticity and Vulnerability: even when I feel scared and unsure of myself, I want to share the truth that lives in me with others while maintaining care and compassion for others and for myself. If I find myself hiding or protecting, I want to seek support to embrace the opportunity to expand my sense of self and transcend shame.
Availability for Feedback: even when I want to be seen and accepted, I want to make myself available to receive feedback from others in order to learn and grow. If I find myself being defensive or slipping into self-judgments, I want to seek support to find the beauty and gift in what is being shared with me.
Openness to Dialogue: even when I am very attached to a particular outcome, I want to remain open to shifting through dialogue. If I find myself defending a position or arguing someone else out of their position I want to seek support to release the attachment, connect with my needs and the needs of others, and aim for mutually supportive strategies to emerge out of connection with needs.
Resolving Conflicts: even when I have many obstacles to connecting with someone, I want to make myself available to work out issues between us with support from others. If I find myself giving up on someone, I want to seek support to remember the magic of dialogue and entrust myself to the process of healing and reconciliation to restore connection.
RELATING TO LIFE
Interdependence: even when I experience separation or deep isolation, I want to open my heart to the fullness of the interconnectedness of all life and to cultivate awareness of the countless ways that our actions and experiences affect each other. If I find myself retreating into self-sufficiency, separation, or mistrust in my own gifts or those of others, I want to seek support to remember the beauty and relief of resting in interdependence, including the many ways each of our lives depends on the gifts, actions, and efforts of others.
Accepting What Is: even when change happens (welcome or unwelcome, small or large), things fall apart, people don’t come through, or calamities take place in the world, I want to remain open to life. If I find myself contracting away from life or drawn to ideas about what should happen, I want to seek support to find a sense a peace with unmet needs, and to choose responses and actions from clarity about how I want to interact with and respond to life.
Celebration of LIfe: even when I am faced with difficulties, personal, interpersonal, or global, I want to maintain an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for what life brings me. If I find myself becoming cynical or experiencing only pain and despair, I want to seek support to connect my heart with the beauty and wonder that exists in life even in the most dire circumstances.
Nonviolent Struggle : even when afraid of consequences, I want to be ready to struggle with others in support of transforming social structures using nonviolent means to create a world that embraces everyone’s needs. If I find myself retreating into the comfort of my life or developing anger or hatred towards those whose actions I want to transform, I want to seek support to bring my intention back to maintaining love and care for the humanity and dignity of everyone and using the least amount of force necessary to support an ultimate solution that works for all.
Miki Kashtan introduced this document in August 2012 in her post “The Long Arc of Commitment.” As of January 2013, she is writing a series of posts on each commitment at the Metta Center’s Nonviolence For Daily Living blog. In the introduction to the series, she writes:
Each entry in this series will introduce one of the commitments and offer a concrete practice to help integrate it into your life. At the end, a final entry will reflect on the paradoxes raised by having “commitments” and how we can create balance and softness in our lives at the same time as we maintain our central focus on nonviolence.
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Dr. Maya Angelou – Power Of Words
Miki Kashtan on the term Commitment:
I have not found a word that captures the exact line that I am looking for. Commitment may be a bit too strong, and tends to connote “should,” thus invoking the non-choiceful energy of obligation and duty. “Intention” is not strong enough, in my mind, to carry the unwavering force of staying the course even when the going gets hard. Somewhere I also want to capture the unpredictability of life. These commitments are not a promise, which none of us can give. I have full understanding of how challenging life is, and imagine that no matter how strong the choice, every single one of us at some point or another will not find sufficient inner resources to follow through on these.
In order to soften the intensity of “commitment” without losing the strength, I chose to use the word “want” rather than “commit” in the actual wording of the commitments. Another reason is that I want the words to remind any of us who makes the choice to follow this path of the overarching clarity that this is what we want, that there is no in-principle objection to living life in this way, no matter what anyone else is doing, no matter what the structures of the world look like, not matter what the circumstances are.
This is a tall order. This, to me, is a mobilized life. The commitments serve as a compass, a reminder, a scaffolding that can hold us in living by choice.
While the choice is ours to make, and the invitation is to extend ourselves to life fully without conditions, we need each other to be able to continue to face reality – external and internal – and keep focused on what matters to us most. This is why each of these commitments includes a reference to seeking support. I have already written earlier about how essential community is to embarking and sustaining an emotional journey. No matter how far we are on the path to wholeness, sustaining where we are continues to be a journey because of the continued challenge of meeting a world that is not designed to meet human needs. This is why I call on all of us to welcome and seek support and reminders for staying on track with these commitments.
How an internal shift can catalyze moving in the world differently
Here’s an excerpt from Miki’s post When Relationships Work Easily:
Assumption of Innocence
I mentioned up above something about interpretations. As outrageous as it may seem, I am now entirely confident that we live in a world made up of how we interpret things. Last night I showed a small group of people a rough draft of a video made from my teaching in Nashville a few months ago, a video that is going to be part of a self-study guide I am creating.
In the current version of the video, I relate a story of how I put hours into trying to create an alternate story about why someone did what they did that was so not working for me. When I finally succeeded in finding a coherent story in which the other person didn’t look like they didn’t care, my entire experience changed and I was able to have inner peace again.
One of the people who watched the video said: “And what if your alternate interpretation is not true?” The answer I now have is that, on some level, it really doesn’t matter.
I can choose my interpretation, and my choice affects what kind of world I live in.
When I talk about the assumption of innocence, what I mean is, simply, being able to retain the capacity to see others, even when they act in ways that don’t work for me, in their full and vibrant humanity. All of us make choices that are ill-informed, that don’t take into consideration in full what the effect of our actions will be on others, or that are motivated by fear and protection, even to the point of spite or revenge. Still, I can see – for myself and for others – the direct links to those needs we all share.
The more I am able to stay in that zone, the more workable a relationship. Even doubly and triply so if both of us can do it at the same time. Those people with whom I have the most easeful relationships are those who are both open to checking their assumptions and verifying intentions and to having my assumptions about them verified with them. There is such relief I feel when I am able to match up my experience with what someone else tells me about their experience. It’s one of the ways I most know that I am not alone or crazy: when I am able to find a coherent story that unites me with another… (continues)
The core commitments were drafted by Miki Kashtan, at her kitchen table (if I’m remembering correctly), to flesh out a path towards embodying NVC consciousness. How we will approach working with them, in this #3 mode, emphasizes specific circumstances in which we are at choice in how to respond (rather than merely, habitually react), and by opting for one (rather than another) we’re exploring what it means to ‘try something on’ (as one might a garment, to see how it fits), i.e. as an exploration or even an experiment (a hypothesis) — not as something obligatory, but for its efficacy/appropriateness. Each can seem alternatively inspiring or, at times, unrealistic, naive, or too daunting. To acknowledge my own challenges with the commitments, for transparency’s sake, I’ll offer that I once opted not to participate in a community specifically formed around applying these commitments, in part, as I just couldn’t reconcile myself to the (seemingly naive) purity of ‘Assumption of Innocence‘. I couldn’t claim sufficient constancy/affinity for this commitment to intend that it would serve as a realistic guide. Somewhat ironically, this is the same very commitment that I most often explore with my NVC coach, Aya Caspi, and find it intriguing — even potentially life-altering (in terms of the dividends of increased resilience and equanimity) — to consider, at least in small dosages. To begin working with it, Aya has suggested that one begin by detecting the underlying needs we’re attending to in all 0f our choices, towards building self-trust (and thus not being deflated by outside jackal ‘sniping’ we inevitably encounter). From detecting our own needs-orientation to our conduct, it becomes easier to then extrapolate and discern a needs-based motive in the conduct of others. One of the things that I most appreciate about this scenario-oriented way of working with Miki Kashtan’s commitments is that it’s foremost about choosing the intrinsic intention one wishes to come from, at any given moment. You know that ol’ saying, that ‘if all you have is a hammer, you see everything as a nail’?
As the commencement speaker at West Point, President Barack Obama told the 1,000 cadets in their dress uniforms that the U.S. must always lead on the world stage and the military is the backbone of that leadership.
But “U.S. military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership in every instance,” said Obama.
“Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”
So — to offer a preposterously extreme example — if I’m hitchhiking home, and Ted Bundy offers me a lift (and I have some intuitive sense that this isn’t necessarily in my best interests) choosing to get into the car, disregarding my self-protective instincts (overriding my better judgement by reminding myself of ‘assumption of innocence’) isn’t, obviously, a ‘life-serving’ option. Thus working with these commitments entails, as Miki herself indicates, finding our unique balance — where our edges are, when we’re stretching too far — and this flexibility of being selective, in a variety of different circumstances (and in accordance with one’s own internal compass). As I’ve often emphasized an intention for this practice group: to become more and more nimble, adept at choosing from a myriad of differing options at our disposal (and in my practice, in particular, not all necessarily derived from NVC assumptions – as even this is a choice), the flexibility of opting for which lens will color the outlook of how you view something and what you then do with it has particular appeal. By working with the ‘assumption of innocence’ commitment, for example (tracking the needs on the table, for the other in question), I’ve noticed that I’m sometimes able to be less reactive to someone, by considering that their conduct is rooted in attending to their own needs (and not necessarily reflective, bearing on anything having to do with me, although this too takes discernment — as to the ripple effects of our interactive interdependence). From working with this commitment over time, the very one that I used to feel quite allergic to, I seem to have — at least occasionally — a bit more flexibility towards my own conduct (embodying greater expansiveness and less contraction, towards greater dignity, poise and grace than otherwise may have been the case). Once one becomes a bit more accustomed to tracking the needs on the table for both parties, to any dilemma, it can ameliorate those traits or tendencies towards splitting others into black and white rather than shades of gray.
Hence even those hellbent on destructive, even apocalyptic, strategies one can humanize, at times (such as gazing into the faces of David and Charles Koch, the ‘Sons of Wichita,’ and ponder how they were shaped to play the irreversible hand that they now do). Won’t their children and grandchildren live with the consequences of their legacy, too? Did not Sandy offer a preview of how their beloved isle of Manhattan, on which David Koch lives and spreads his philanthropy quite liberally (pardon the pun), might be devastated?
How do the Koch brothers then reconcile (read, ‘rationalize’) their own Koch-Funded Study Findings: ‘Global Warming is Real’? Becoming an empathic detective curiously discerning the (rational self-interests, such as power/status) needs in play can be quite compelling… So what of the (loyalty to paternal laissez-faire/freedom-esque) values at stake, meriting throwing caution to the wind, damned the torpedoes (as we head towards the melting iceberg), from the vantage point of these once little boys who, once played in the great outdoors, and apparently have an immense ‘true-believer’ devotion to their father’s political philosophy? Worth exploring, methinks.
Regarding empathic differences:
Abigail Marsh & Edwin Rutsch: Psychopathy, Fear & How to Build a Culture of Empathy
“The most difficult thing is that I think you cannot get along in the world with only one guiding value…” ~ Abigail Marsh
However, for my part, I opt to implement the ethos of nonviolence selectively, as a matter of choice; as Nelson Mandela once did — see: News as a “Spiritual Opportunity” — (rather than Gandhi), as Mandela once put it, as ‘a tactic rather than as a principle’ that takes precedence over all else. Of course, while it’s always possible to track respective needs (and to delineate tragic strategies), I yet reserve the ‘life-serving’ intention/right to choose when to recognize (what climatologist Michael Mann recently referred to as) “bad faith” in lieu of merely/exclusively ‘assuming innocence’ by default (see beneath, for an example of the life-serving potential of a more critical view). While I can attempt to grapple with another’s point-of-view, and this may be useful, it is also crucial to connect rather unseemly dots, when this sort of ‘analysis’ and ‘attributing ulterior motives’ can also be quite clarifying. There is something about the complexity of life, and an efficacy of a more nuanced grasping of it, that seems rather significant, given that our very ecosystem that supports life on earth is now at stake.
Why are some people still sceptical about the reality and seriousness of climate change when the scientific evidence is so overwhelming?
This is the question that motivates a great deal of climate change communication. How can climate scepticism be countered? (continues)
Brad Friedman: “For my money, however, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse still offers the most plausible explanation for the GOP’s madness in the face of our ever-quickening climate crisis” (via http://www.bradblog.com):
“Congress is peculiarly gridlocked because of the evils of Citizens United. Our failure to address climate change is a symptom of things gone wrong in our democracy,” Whitehouse said in opening one such speech in late February.
WHITEHOUSE: I mentioned earlier how we have a former Republican Presidential candidate [John McCain] who campaigned on climate change, how we have a Republican Senator who was a co-sponsor on a climate fee bill [Lindsey Graham], how we have a Republican Senator who voted for Waxman-Markey when he was in the House [Mark Kirk], how we have Republican Senators who have spoken for a carbon fee.
All of that happened before 2010. What happened in 2010 that drove every Republican back underground on this issue?
I’ll tell you what happened. The United States Supreme Court decided a case called Citizens United. And the instant they decided Citizens United, the Koch Brothers and the big polluters put enormous amounts of money into elections.
And they didn’t just put the money into elections between Republicans and Democrats — they put money into elections between Republicans and Republicans. They went into primary elections. And they went after Republicans who were not consistent with their orthodoxy on climate change. Unless you were a denier, they either punished you, or threatened you.
And since that time, that’s why there’s been silence on the Republican side.
It’s not because there’s not a tradition of Republicans caring about the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency was established by a Republican president [Richard Nixon]. Theodore Roosevelt was our greatest conservationist. There is a Republican tradition of this. There’s a Republican tradition of standing up to the big money and sticking up for regular people.
But not since Citizens United. Not since that baleful decision cast an absolute avalanche of dark money — of unlimited money and anonymous money — into the elections.
The Daily Climate: The largest, most-consistent money fueling the climate denial movement are a number of well-funded conservative foundations built with so-called “dark money,” or concealed donations, according to an analysis released Friday afternoon.
A shift to untraceable donations by organizations denying climate change undermines democracy, according to the author of a new study tracking contributions to such groups.
Excerpt (from #5 – GOP has gone off the rails on climate change):
In 1989, Newt Gingrich was one of 25 Republican co-sponsors of the Global Warming Prevention Act, which said “the Earth’s atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities, inefficient and wasteful fossil fuel use, and the effects of rapid population growth in many regions.” Top Republicans continued to fret over climate change in the 1990s and the 2000s. Sen. John McCain, for instance, introduced the first cap-and-trade bill into the US Senate. In 2008, the McCain/Palin ticket ran on a platform that included a robust cap-and-trade plan.
“I think it’s an inexact science,” McCain said in 2010, “and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change.”
Koch Bros. ‘enormous money’ in ‘elections between Republicans and Republicans’ responsible for new GOP ‘silence’ on climate…
Not Just the Koch Brothers: New Drexel Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort
Naomi Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt
Posted on 15 November 2010 by John Cook
A must-read book for anyone following climate science is Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. If you’re at all familiar with the arguments of global warming skeptics, you’ll have many a sense of deja vu as you read through the history of the attacks on science over the last 40 years.
Merchants of Doubt examines the organised attack on scientific evidence and on science itself over the last 40 years. In the 1950s, as scientific evidence began to accumulate that smoking caused cancer, a small group of scientists actively campaigned to cast doubt on the evidence. When scientists calculated that nuclear war would cause a devastating nuclear winter, the same group of scientists sought to cast doubt not only on the science but on the entire scientific establishment.
What is striking is the same scientists keep appearing, casting doubts on each scientific consensus. A name that regularly appears is Fred Singer who continues to publish articles on global warming to this day. In 1983, Singer argued that evidence of acid rain damage was lacking, that much acidification was natural and was in some cases actually beneficial. When the ozone layer was found to be shrinking, Singer argued that ozone depletion was a natural variation being exploited by scientists eager for more grant money. When second hand smoking was found to cause cancer in non-smokers, Singer blamed the messenger, attacking the EPA.
Also striking is that the arguments used against acid rain, DDT, CFCs and smoking are the same arguments encountered now in global warming skepticism. Over the last 40 years, they argued that there’s no evidence. It’s not us. It’s beneficial. It’s a conspiracy. There’s no consensus. Ozone depletion was blamed on volcanoes. Human activity is too small. All the same arguments were being repeated over and over… by the same people.
These reports warn that extreme conditions brought on by global warming will pose security threats as the resulting shortage of resources could lead to conflict.
“In Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we are already seeing how the impacts of extreme weather, such as prolonged drought and flooding — and resulting food shortages, desertification, population dislocation and mass migration, and sea level rise — are posing security challenges to these regions’ governments. We see these trends growing and accelerating,” reads a report from the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board .
The Pentagon itself in its later 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review said: “Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating.”
In a letter to the House before Thursday’s vote, Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush wrote the “McKinley amendment” is “science denial at its worst and it fails our moral obligation to our children and grandchildren.”
The bill passed Friday and will now be heard by the Democratic-controlled Senate where it could be voted down. Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2014/05/23/House-bans-Pentagon-from-preparing-for-climate-change
Last Monday, we hosted a Nasa conference on the state of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which, it could be said, provoked something of a reaction. “This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like,” ran a headline in Mother Jones magazine.
We announced that we had collected enough observations to conclude that the retreat of ice in the Amundsen sea sector of West Antarctica was unstoppable, with major consequences – it will mean that sea levels will rise one metre worldwide. What’s more, its disappearance will likely trigger the collapse of the rest of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which comes with a sea level rise of between three and five metres. Such an event will displace millions of people worldwide… (continues)
By the metric of most people living on land less than 10 ft above the high tide line, New York City is most threatened in the long run, with a low-lying population count of more than 700,000. New research indicates that climate change has already triggered an unstoppable decay of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The projected decay will lead to at least 4 feet of accelerating global sea level rise within the next two-plus centuries, and at least 10 feet of rise in the end. What does the U.S. look like with an ocean that is 10 feet higher? The radically transformed map would lose 28,800 square miles of land, home today to 12.3 million people… (continues)
By Lori Montgomery, Published: May 31
NORFOLK — At high tide on the small inlet next to Norfolk’s most prestigious art museum, the water lapped at the very top of the concrete sea wall that has held it back for 100 years. It seeped up through storm drains, puddled on the promenade and spread, half a foot deep, across the street, where a sign read, “Road Closed.”
Cohen (excerpt): Above all, understand that, “The answers start from recognizing that financial capitalism is not an end in itself, but a means to promote investment, innovation, growth and prosperity. Banking is fundamentally about intermediation — connecting borrowers and savers in the real economy. In the run-up to the crisis, banking became about banks not businesses; transactions not relations; counterparties not clients.”
In other words, human beings matter. An age that has seen emergence from poverty on a massive scale in the developing world has been accompanied by the spread of a new poverty (of life and of expectations) in much of the developed world. Global convergence has occurred alongside internal divergence. Interdependence is a reality, but the way it works is skewed. Clinton noted that ants, bees, termites and humans have all survived through an unusual shared characteristic: They are cooperative forms of life. But it is precisely the loss at all levels of community, of social capital, that most threatens the world’s stability and future prosperity.”
Excerpt: The lesson from childhood, then, is that if you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say “no” to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say “yes” to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, said nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.
RAJENDRA PACHAURI: There is a reason for the world not really neglecting the findings of this report, because they are profound. And let me repeat once again, we have said very categorically in this report, the implications for human security. We have reasons to believe that if the world doesn’t do anything about mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake.
It’s the Beginning of the End on This Week’s ‘Cosmos’: On this week’s episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the substantial evidence for climate change in what often felt like a direct address to those who deny that the phenomenon is happening. While the series has touched on climate change in several previous episodes, this week’s penultimate episode was the one in which the show’s writers made the case for enacting change to mitigate its effects. How successful was it? We discuss here.
Chris Mooney: If you care about the place of science in our culture, then this has to be the best news in a very long time. Last Sunday night, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – which airs on Fox and then the next day on the National Geographic Channel – actually tied ABC’s The Bachelorette for the top ratings among young adult viewers, the “key demographic” coveted by advertisers. And it did so by – that’s right – airing an episode about the reality of climate change. (see above video)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (via Mediaite): Tyson’s outlook on the climate change issue managed to be both devastating and hopeful at the same time. “It has been said that every great, emergent scientific truth goes through three phases,” Tyson told Hayes. “First, people say it can’t be true. Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible. Third, they say it’s true all along. And so, there you have it.”
For people who still don’t believe that man-made climate change is real, Tyson said the “evidence will show up when they need more evidence.” He pointed to “more storms” and “more coastlines getting lost” as two physical manifestations, before mentioning something that could have a bigger impact: “People beginning to lose their wealth.”
“People, if they begin to lose their wealth, they change their mind real fast, I’ve found,” Tyson stated. “Particularly in a capitalist culture.”
NYC with 70m sea-level rise. Source: National Geographic.
One thing Tyson said he tells people in the New York area to really “wake them” up out of their climate change ignorance, is that if the polar ice caps melt, the water will come up to the Statue of Liberty’s elbow — “the one that’s holding the Declaration of Independence.” He compared it to the final scene of the original Planet of the Apes when (spoiler alert) Charlton Heston finds the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand.
“I don’t see people trying to repeal the law of gravity just because they’re gaining weight,” Tyson continued. “I didn’t see people trying to repeal E=MC2 because it somehow conflicted with their political philosophy. These are emergent scientific truths. So I’m disappointed when I look around and I see people cherry-picking the consensus of observation and experiment that has emerged in science.”
In the end, Tyson said he has nothing against people believing whatever they want to believe, but has a problem when those beliefs start to influence society in a detrimental way.
“Part of what it is to be in a free country is, you can believe what you want,” he said. “The problem comes about if you believe what you want and you are responsible for the governance of the nation. I’d like to think that governance is based on objective and verifiable truths. Otherwise, what kind of culture have you created?”
Tyson also took the well-funded climate-change denial movement to task. Everyone is entitled to a personal opinion, he said, but those in a position of power have a responsibility to rely on something more than faith.
“I’d like to think that governance is based on objectively verifiable truths,” he said. “Otherwise, what kind of culture have we created?” ~ Neil Degrasse Tyson/Cosmos
…If the polar ice caps melt, the water will come up to the Statue of Liberty’s elbow — “the one that’s holding the Declaration of Independence.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of Hayden Planetarium
San Francisco Crissy Field
San Diego Convention Center
South Beach Miami
Ocean Drive Miami
|By Dori Midnight|
“Of course, even when you see the world as a trap and posit a fundamental separation between liberation of self and transformation of society, you can still feel a compassionate impulse to help its suffering beings. In that case you tend to view the personal and the political in a sequential fashion. “I’ll get enlightened first, and then I’ll engage in social action.” Those who are not engaged in spiritual pursuits put it differently: “I’ll get my head straight first, I’ll get psychoanalyzed, I’ll overcome my inhibitions or neuroses or my hang-ups (whatever description you give to samsara) and then I’ll wade into the fray.” Presupposing that world and self are essentially separate, they imagine they can heal one before healing the other. This stance conveys the impression that human consciousness inhabits some haven, or locker-room, independent of the collective situation — and then trots onto the playing field when it is geared up and ready.
It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up — release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened.”
― Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self
Impact Of Global Warming ‘Is Irreversible’
Researchers found that the term ‘global warming’ resonates far more powerfully, triggering images of ice melt and catastrophe. Photo: Peter McBride /Barcroft
The period from 2001-2012 was the warmest on record globally. Every year was warmer than the 1990s average.
Photograph by Mike Olbinski Photography/Corbis.
NEW HAVEN (The Borowitz Report)—After a report from the Yale Center on Climate Change Communication showed that the term “climate change” elicits relatively little concern from the American public, leading scientists are recommending replacing it with a new term: “You will be burnt to a crisp and die.”
Other terms under consideration by the scientists include “your cities will be ravaged by tsunamis and floods” and “earth will be a fiery hellhole incapable of supporting human life.”
Scientists were generally supportive of the suggestions, with many favoring the term “your future will involve rowing a boat down a river of rotting corpses.”
“Any of these terms would do a better job conveying the urgency of the problem,” Tracy Klugian, a spokesperson for the newly renamed Yale Center for Oh My God Wake Up You Assholes, said.
CNN: Media’s Global Warming Fail
Overall, Network TV News Outlets Ramped Up Climate Change Coverage In 2013. CBS aired 56 minutes of coverage on the topic in 2013, slightly more than NBC’s nearly 52 total minutes of coverage and far greater than the 18 minutes of coverage that ABC devoted to climate change.
Media Coverage Of Climate Change Was Up
(But Still Dismal)
Sunday Shows Finally Interviewed Scientists About Climate Change, But Still Skewed Toward Media Figures And Republican Politicians
In 2013, Broadcast Networks Increased Coverage But Remained Below 2009 Highs
Naomi Oreskes deconstructs Nick Minchin’s climate denial
As ThinkProgress points out, this is far from the first time Boehner has said something bizarre related to climate change. Five years ago, he said the “idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”
“Well, listen. I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change. But I am astute enough to understand that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs,” said Boehner. “That can’t be the prescription for dealing with changes in our climate.”
Cook, John (28 April 2011). “How climate change deniers led me to set up Skeptical Science website”. The Guardian (London).
Several studies have shown that people who correctly perceive the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming are more likely to support government action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This was most recently shown in McCright et al. (2013),recently published in the journal Climatic Change. People will defer to the judgment of experts, and they trust climate scientists on the subject of global warming.
However, research has also shown that the public is misinformed on the climate consensus. For example, a 2012 poll from US Pew Research Center found less than half of Americans thought that scientists agreed that humans were causing global warming. One contributor to this misperception is false balance in the media, particularly in the US, where most climate stories are “balanced” with a “skeptic” perspective. However, this results in making the 3% seem much larger, like 50%. In trying to achieve “balance”, the media has actually created a very unbalanced perception of reality. As a result, people believe scientists are still split about what’s causing global warming, and therefore there is not nearly enough public support or motivation to solve the problem.
Such false balance has long been the goal of a dedicated misinformation campaign waged by the fossil fuel industry. Just as one example, in 1991 Western Fuels Association conducted a $510,000 campaign whose primary goal was to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” These vested interests have exploited the media desire to appear “balanced.”
The Guardian reviews John Oliver’s HBO, shown in the embedded above.
Humanity’s response to global warming has so far been a massive risk-management failure, or as Oliver put it, “we’ve all proven that we cannot be trusted with the future tense.” … Public skepticism about global warming is irrelevant. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
Former NASA Climatologist
“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced … to at most 350 ppm.”
Krugman (excerpt): “Next week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules designed to limit global warming. Although we don’t know the details yet, anti-environmental groups are already predicting vast costs and economic doom. Don’t believe them. Everything we know suggests that we can achieve large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at little cost to the economy.
Just ask the United States Chamber of Commerce… (continues)
You might ask why the Chamber of Commerce is so fiercely opposed to action against global warming, if the cost of action is so small. The answer, of course, is that the chamber is serving special interests, notably the coal industry — what’s good for America isn’t good for the Koch brothers, and vice versa — and also catering to the ever more powerful anti-science sentiments of the Republican Party.
Finally, let me take on the anti-environmentalists’ last line of defense — the claim that whatever we do won’t matter, because other countries, China in particular, will just keep on burning ever more coal. This gets things exactly wrong. Yes, we need an international agreement to reduce emissions, including sanctions on countries that don’t sign on. But U.S. unwillingness to act has been the biggest obstacle to such an agreement. If we start taking serious steps against global warming, the stage will be set for Europe and Japan to follow suit, and for concerted pressure on the rest of the world as well… (continues: Cutting Carbon)
Of the many things being said about climate change lately, none was more eloquent than the point made by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State in the Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously,” when he observed: “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”
Roberts provides supporting documentation for his talk here.
Image: Kevin Anderson, “Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change“
Read the full report (pdf)
Obama Climate Change Strategy: Politically Realistic or Strategy for Disaster
Credit: Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
Conclusion: The president added: “The person who I consider to be the greatest president of all time, Abraham Lincoln, was pretty consistent in saying, ‘With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done,’ and so part of my job over these next two and a half years and beyond is trying to shift public opinion. And the way to shift public opinion is to really focus in on the fact that if we do nothing our kids are going to be worse off.”
The trick, I argued, is to find that fine line between making people feel the problem is urgent, but not insoluble so they just say: If the end is nigh, let’s party.
“The most important thing is to guard against cynicism,” responded the president. “I want to make sure that everybody who’s been watching this program or listening to this interview doesn’t start concluding that, well, we’re all doomed, there’s nothing we can do about it. There’s a lot we can do about it. It’s not going to happen as fast or as smoothly or as elegantly as we like, but, if we are persistent, we will make progress.”
Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule — Get Involved — On June 2, 2014, EPA proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. States, cities and businesses across the country are already taking action to address the risks of climate change.
“In the ’60s, when smog choked our cities, critics cried wolf and said EPA action would put the brakes on auto production, and they were wrong. Instead, our air got cleaner and our kids got healthier, and we sold more cars. Thank you to the folks at EPA. In the 1990s, critics cried wolf and said fighting acid rain would make electricity go up and our lights go out. They said industry would, and I quote, ‘die a quiet death.’ Well, they were wrong again. Industry is alive and well. Our lights are still on, and we have dramatically reduced acid rain. So time after time, when science pointed to health risks, special interests cried wolf to protect their own agenda, not the agenda of the American people. And time after time, we followed the science, we protected the American people and the doomsday predictions never came true.”
Discussion: New York Times, Guardian, The Huffington Post, Hot Air, NPR, Business Insider, Hit & Run, The Hill, Watchdog.org, WFPL, Vermont Public Radio, Grist, ThinkProgress, Common Resources, Washington Monthly, AEIdeas, The Verge, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Taylor Marsh and JustOneMinute
A key fact to remember: For a given carbon reduction pathway, the later emissions peak, the faster they have to fall to stay under budget.
Image: Kevin Anderson, “Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change“
US carbon-dioxide emissions have fallen in recent years — but they’re now rising again:
This is arguably the key chart to understand Obama’s broader climate agenda.
Climate change is already causing problems around the world (these nine maps show how it’s already affecting the United States). But this is the drizzle before the storm.
Mr. Obama’s effort is aimed not just at charting a new course inside the United States, but at reclaiming for the country the mantle of international leadership in battling climate change. If the policy coaxes more ambitious goals from other countries, experts say it could be a turning point. The test of that will come soon, as world leaders meet in New York in September seeking to make headway on a new global climate treaty. The leaders are supposed to pledge ambitious new emissions targets for their countries by next spring, with a final treaty due in late 2015.
By CORAL DAVENPORT
Governments across the world are watching for a new regulation targeted at coalfired power plants that is expected to be the United States’ most forceful effort yet to address climate change.
Tue Jun 3, 2014 4:21pm IST
* Government adviser says China to introduce absolute cap from 2016
* U.S. has announced plans to rein in emissions from its power sector
* Climate negotiators heading to Germany for climate talks
(Recasts with comments from the EU, analysts)
NEED TO KNOW: Time for a carbon cap reality check? by The Big Picture RT (see first segment of link above where Thom Hartmann interviews Dr. Michael Mann, video above, Earth System Science Center-Penn State University / The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars)
The models reviewed by the I.P.C.C. suggest that to make it “as likely as not” that global temperatures remain below the 2-degree threshold throughout this century, we may need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2050 — only 36 years from now — and much more after that.
The problem is, we haven’t even started. In the first decade of this century, emissions actually grew at twice the pace of the preceding three decades, fueled mostly by China and its vast appetite for coal.
…What makes all this dithering so agonizing is that staying under the 2-degree ceiling would be surprisingly affordable, if the world started now to make reasonable emission cuts, while investing in developing the future technologies that could largely replace fossil fuels by the end of the century. According to the I.P.C.C report, the effort would slow the growth in the world’s annual consumption by no more than 0.14 percentage points, a tiny portion of the typical 3 to 4 percent annual rise in global output.
Meanwhile, global carbon emissions are rising fast…
Although carbon emissions have fallen in the United States, they’re rising quickly in the rest of the world. And that means that global average temperatures are likely to rise more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels — a limit widely deemed unacceptable.
Beijing leads a coalition of developing countries that has long insisted there can be no new treaty unless the US shows it is serious about tackling its emissions. Now it is. …
China’s severe pollution problems have forced Beijing to look harder at curbing pollution from its coal power plants. It is still unwilling to be pushed into measures that could compromise its economic growth and may not end up doing as much as climate scientists say is necessary. But in private, some officials are showing signs of interest in a deal with the US that could make the Paris talks more successful than [the Copenhagen climate talks of 2009].
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
The data above is from 2012.
Energy Information Administration
More specifically, here’s where the United States got its electricity from in 2012
60 Minutes, 04.26.09
(about 15 minutes into the program, Scott Pelley examines the impact of burning coal on global warming)
Alexandra Jaffe / The Hill:
Democrats’ new coal headache — The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule on carbon pollution is the latest headache for Democrats trying to defend a fragile Senate majority.
Jonathan Chait Follow / New York Magazine:
Obama Makes His Bid to Become the Environmental President
Conclusion: The new carbon policy, then, is supposed to be the beginning, not the end, a domino that, once pushed over, should start a chain reaction that leads, finally, to global steps to limit climate change. Do we know that it will work? Of course not. But it’s vital that we try.
If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale.
(Continues here: Hope and fellowship | Grist)Mon June 2, 2014Robert Redford says if we embrace clean energy, we can innovate, create jobs, and fight climate change. New rules on carbon pollution are an important step
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/FERDINAND OSTROP
Excerpt: On Sunday, Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continued, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International…
To reach the lofty goal of 80 percent renewables by 2050, Germany had to move quickly. Despite being known for gray skies, the country has installed an astonishing amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) power — setting multiple solar power generation records along the way. At the end of 2012, Germany had installed considerably more solar power capacity per capita than any other country. The rapid growth has slowed, however, with 3.3 GW of PV installed in 2013, compared to 7.6 in 2012. And as countries like the U.S., Japan and China catch up, installations have continued to drop in 2014.
Regardless, a recent analysis by the consulting firm Eclareon found that solar power has reached grid parity in Germany, meaning once all of the costs are accounted for, the price of commercial solar power is now equal to retail electricity rates.
CREDIT: BERNARD CHABOT
The first quarter of 2014 was another big one for the U.S. solar industry, with 74 percent of all new electricity generation across the country coming from solar power.
In case you want to know what Obama’s war on coal looks like, here are job trends in the coal industry:
Earth in 1000 Years
Warmer ocean temperatures are leading to an increase in coral bleaching in tropical areas, in the U.S. and around the world.
By Joanna Macy
Chapter Eight – The Shift: Seeing with New Eyes
For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river —
Unbearable pain becomes its own cure…
It’s the rose’s unfolding, Ghalib, that creates the desire to see —
In every color and circumstance, may the eyes be open for what comes.
~ Ghalib (of 19th century India)
In despair work we look full-face at what is happening to our world, and that mean dropping our defenses against our feelings of dread, anger, guilt, and grief. As we allow these emotions to surface, we can perceive their distinctive character. We find that the dread we experience is not the same as fear of our own individual death, and that the anger is on behalf of others as well as ourselves. We find the sense of guilt is not personal blame so much as collective accountability as a society and as a species. And underneath all these responses is a depthless well of sorrow for the suffering and losses inflicted on our brother-sister beings and those who will come after us.
This is in itself a remarkable discovery, for it flies in the face that the Industrial Growth Society has conditioned us to believe about ourselves. It doesn’t match with the assumption that we are separate, independent beings, whose happiness must often be secured at the expense of others. On the contrary, it reveals that, in the depths of our psyches, we suffer with them. That ‘suffering with,’ we now recall, is the literal meaning of compassion. Far from being a sign of personal craziness, it is the noblest of capacities in most spiritual traditions.
Now we can realize from actual experience that it is from our interconnectedness that feelings of pain for the world arise. The very distress that, when we hid it, seemed to separate us from other people, now uncovers the connective tissue bonding us. This realization, whether it comes in a flash of insight or as a gradual dawning, is a turning point in our perceptions. We shift to a new way of seeing ourselves and a new way of understanding our power.
Climate change significantly increases the risk of water supply stress by mid-century, especially in the western U.S.
Much more information is available on the report’s gateway Web site, which contains widely accessible, sharable, and highly interactive climate information: nca2014.globalchange.gov
“Even if we can’t know what future citizens will actually value and believe in, we can still consider their interests, on the reasonable assumption that they will somewhat resemble our own (everybody needs breathable air, for example),” wrote Thomas Wells in Aeon Magazine. Since “our ethical values point one way, towards intergenerational responsibility, but our political system points another, towards the short-term horizon of the next election,” we “should consider introducing agents who can vote in a far-seeing and impartial way.”
“What containment was for our parents’ generation — their strategy to fight for freedom against the biggest threat of their day — resiliency will be for our generation against the multiple threats of our day: climate change, petro-dictatorship and destruction of our environment and biodiversity. Let’s act so the next generation will want to honor us with a Memorial Day, the way we honor the sacrifice of previous generations.”
I once heard an interview in which Maya Angelou described the arduous, voluminous process of generating material for this poem, sequestered in her Winston Salem hotel room, only to whittle it down gradually over time. You certainly get a sense of the depth and breadth of her preparedness (and I cannot help but muse at how writing for a Clinton/Gore — “Earth in the Balance” — administration must have influenced her thematic opening gambit)…
Burr compared Angelou’s poem with Frost’s, something she claimed the poetry critics who gave “On the Pulse of Morning” negative reviews did not do. Angelou “rewrote” Frost’s poem, from the perspective of personified nature that appeared in both poems…
“On the Pulse of Morning” was full of contemporary references, like toxic waste and pollution.
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow,
I will give you no hiding place down here.
On Tuesday night, ABC News aired a two-hour special called Earth 2100, describing the potentially apocalyptic scene that could await us at the end of the century. The network abandoned cautious storytelling, opting instead to portray “the worst-case scenario for human civilization… if we fail to seriously address the complex problem of climate change, resource depletion and overpopulation,” as executive producer Michael Bicks described it on ABC’s Web site. The program, which attracted nearly 3.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen, wove comics-style illustrations of a ruined landscape, the fictional life story of a woman named Lucy living in said landscape, and interviews from some of the world’s leading climate experts. Online message boards and list-servs soon erupted with questions about the scientific validity of Earth 2100’s predictions and the overall effectiveness of the show. Many viewers were weary of the shock-factor incorporated into the story—constant war, pandemics, food shortages, etc. While many climate scientists agree that these are distinct possibilities for the future, there is very little consensus about the timing, severity, and location of these outcomes. As such, several commenters cried “fear mongering.”
With ABC posing hyperbolic and truly unhelpful questions such as, “Is this the final century of our civilization,” that is fair criticism. To its credit, however, the network posted annotated transcripts (an excellent technique that also been employed by Climate Central, which contributes to the News Hour) of the program explaining the sources for each prediction, scenario, and statement. “The scenarios in Earth 2100 are not a prediction of what will happen but rather a warning about what might happen,” Bicks wrote on the ABC News Web site. “Though there is some disagreement about the specifics, there is a widespread agreement… that if we do not change course in the near future, the collapse of our civilization is a real possibility.” Those caveats must have allayed some criticism as, all in all, most viewers seemed to have had relatively positive reactions to the broadcast… (continues)
UPDATE: This was certainly the best done worst-case scenario mainstream media has ever put in front of the American public. I have a bunch of little quibbles — no one’s going to be abandoning the American suburbs just because gasoline hits $5.50 a gallon, as the show depicts — see “Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the “end of suburbia.“ Heck, Great Britain has had gasoline costs above seven dollars a gallon for many years and the life goes on. But ABC deserves a lot of kudos for laying out so many realistic threats that humanity faces on the business as usual path. ~ Joe Romm
Temperatures are projected to warm from a few to over 10 degrees by the end of the 21st century, depending on future greenhouse gas emissions.
“Trust is to a collaboration-based social order what fear is to an authority-based social order. Trust, then, is the glue that binds everyone together in a large-scale society or organization.”
“We’re in new territory for human beings–it’s been millions of years since there’s been this much carbon in the atmosphere. The only question now is whether the relentless rise in carbon can be matched by a relentless rise in the activism necessary to stop it.”
|Seeing with New Eyes|
Given the lag time of greenhouse gasses, half century or more, for most reading this blog, the yearning towards activism seems a seedling of the bodhissattva in us all…
- This world, in which we are born and take our being, is alive. It is not our supply house and sewer; it is our larger body. The intelligence that evolved us from star dust and interconnects us with all beings is sufficient for the healing of our Earth community, if we but align with that purpose.
- Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and society. We are as intrinsic to our living world as the rivers and trees, woven of the same intricate flows of matter/energy and mind. Having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness, the world can now know itself through us, behold its own majesty, tell its own stories–and also respond to its own suffering.
- Our experience of pain for the world springs from our inter-connectedness with all beings, from which also arises our powers to act on their behalf. When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or treat it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished. This apatheia need not become a terminal condition. Our capacity to respond to our own and others’ suffering–that is, the feedback loops that weave us into life–can be unblocked.
- Unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only intellectually validated, but experienced. Cognitive information about the crises we face, or even about our psychological responses to them, is insufficient. We can only free ourselves from our fears of the pain–including the fear of getting permanently mired in despair or shattered by grief–when we allow ourselves to experience these feelings. Only then can we discover their fluid, dynamic character. Only then can they reveal on a visceral level our mutual belonging to the web of life.
- When we reconnect with life, by willingly enduring our pain for it, the mind retrieves its natural clarity. Not only do we experience our interconnectedness in the community of Earth, but also mental eagerness arises to match this experience with new paradigm thinking. Concepts which bring relatedness into focus become vivid. Significant learnings occur, for the individual system is reorganizing and reorienting, grounding itself in wider reaches of identity and self-interest.
- The experience of reconnection with the Earth community arouses desire to act on its behalf. As Earth’s self-healing powers take hold within us, we feel called to participate in the Great Turning. For these self-healing powers to operate effectively, they must be trusted and acted on. The steps we take can be modest undertakings, but they should involve some risk to our mental comfort, lest we remain caught in old, “safe” limits. Courage is a great teacher and bringer of joy.
|By Dori Midnight|